Have you heard of Amazon Dash?

Do you ever have those days when you realize you have no more toilet paper? You have just used the last piece and you look in the hall closet and find out you dropped the ball? The next option is to use facial tissue, but you pull one out and find out it is the last one too. You do not have time to go to the store until late that night, and that is the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day.

Enter Amazon Dash.

Imagine having a button near where you stock up on toilet paper, facial tissue, trash bags, diapers (the list goes on). You see that you are almost out, and with a click of the button Amazon will send you refills right away. You do not have to get online and place a new order. The click of the button does all the work for you.

There are currently 18 buttons for different brands. The cost of each button is $5, and are only available for Amazon Prime members. An excerpt for how it works from Amazon.com:

“Amazon Dash Button is simple to set up. Use the Amazon app on your smartphone to easily connect to your home Wi-Fi and select the product you want to reorder with Dash Button. Once connected, a single press automatically places your order. Amazon sends an order alert to your phone, so it’s easy to cancel if you change your mind. Unless you elect otherwise, Dash Button responds only to your first press until your order is delivered.”

Seems easy, and the future of how consumers might purchase everyday items such as shampoo, detergent, toilet paper — really anything that you get the same of every time. Only thing that randomly comes to me — kids that find the button and have a little fun. You might just have a truck load of toilet paper.

Surprise tactics

How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.

I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.

Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.

I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.

Doing too much?

I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how we all end up doing so much — to the point of are we doing too much?

We probably are, and I am definitely one that falls into that camp. I like to help, I like to solve problems, I like to make things happen. Sometimes when you have your hands in too many pots, what suffers most is your own personal life. I mentioned how I love the weekends because somehow I feel like a person again. It is my time to recharge, refresh, and relook at the world in new ways. Yet, I wonder if I really should be doing that every day? My first inclination is to say: “Who has the time?” Partly that is true, and partly it is about making the time.

One of the ways that I do that is in the morning. I am not a morning person. I would rather drag out starting my day in more ways than one. I usually leave for work two hours after I get up in the morning. Unless of course I have an early meeting in which I either have to get up crazy early, or I have to give up my me time. I like to slowly get out of bed (you know, have the alarm go off a zillion times and hit snooze each time) rather than wake up by immediately taking a shower. Chris (the amazing husband that he is) makes our morning green smoothie while I shower, then I take my time drinking it while catching up on personal emails, articles, and maybe a dabbling of Facebook. That quiet time can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and I generally push it as long as I can. It is my “me” time.

Eventually he drops hints that it is time for me to get ready for work. I do, but often want to just finish that next thing or to hold those last few moments for me before I give myself over to a day of back-to-back meetings often without even time for lunch. When I get home, if I am not incredibly wiped out, my hope is that I get one more hour back to me for my run and to catch up on the book that I am reading. Then dinner, catch up on more work, and finally some blogging. Not much time in the day for much else.

Chris and I had the conversation over the weekend — if I was going to cut something out, what would it be? A tough decision. I want to do it all. I want to love it all. I want more hours in the day. Since that is not possible it often means less sleep, which is also not always the best answer.

What do you do when you are doing too much and you either do not want to edit or you do not know where to edit?

Letting go and controlling how we react

I am not sure my parents really prepared me for all the curveballs that life has thrown at me starting at an early age. In some ways the curveballs have made me incredibly agile to which way to swing, when to duck, and when to let the ball pass right by me. That does not mean that all that movement and reaction is not exhausting, and it also does not mean that I have always reacted, or presented myself in the best of ways. I have high standards and expectations at work and in my personal life. Maybe my dad overly ingrained in my head: “Do it right the first time.” Now to me that does not mean only try once and get it right the first time. What it means in my mind is give it your all and keep at it until you get to where you are going.

A recent book I finished began with a quote that to me speaks to the truth about the curveballs in life. The book is called: “The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do” by Jeff Goins.

“We can’t control what life throws our way, but we can control how we react to it. As we do, maybe we come closer to a meaningful life than any plan could ever take us. To do this, though, we have to let go of what we think we deserve and embrace what is, which just might lead to something better than we could have imagined.” Page xxvii

The part I love about the above quote is about letting go and letting ourselves be lead to something better than we could have imagined. While I have high standards I also have witnessed how taking a step back and listening to intuition allows for life to sometimes fall into place.

I will give you a tiny morsel from my day on Monday. All morning things kept changing — meetings moved, deadlines shifted, and when I tried to unravel it all it was just horribly frustrating and time-consuming. I kept (as often happens) getting pulled into other things and dealing with requests and the thought that came to me during it all was: ‘Let it go. you will figure it out later… as messed up as it all happens to feel right now.’ Later in the day when I had a moment to look at the mess, each conflict and deadline had actually all moved again and all the things I would have had to unravel were put in a place that worked out. I did not have to do anything other than respond to a few emails and accept moved meetings. No rearranging needed. Now — that does not mean that I think you should procrastinate or that my morsel of happenstance from Monday will occur all the time. What I honed in on from Monday is that I listened to my intuition to let it go for that time and it all worked out.

That is just a small moment in time. Think about what can happen if we let go more often, for the small and the large events in life, and let things naturally be designed in front of us. Somehow the universe has a way of bringing color, hope, and a graceful design that often surpasses what we can imagine for ourselves.

For more on this same topic, you might like: “Better than you ever imagined.”

Does email facilitate the work?

We are all drowning in email. No one likes it, everyone hates it, and yet it rules our life. It is true. How often do you send an email rather than picking up the phone? How often do you send an email rather than walking down the hall? I am just as much to blame. I like email for a few reasons:

_I have more control over my end of the conversation. I can say what I need to say, and be done. On a phone call, the conversation can go one of many directions. I might not be prepared or comfortable with those many directions.

_An email is an electronic copy of the interaction. Someone might tell you verbally they will meet a deadline, but when it is in writing you have a copy of that agreement. A phone call can be misinterpreted or does not keep that agreement in writing.

_I enjoy walking down the hall to see you and chat further, but it is not always as quick. I might get an immediate answer (and my question is not sitting in your inbox waiting) but five people might also stop me along the way, so it might not be the most efficient part of my day.

_Email allows you to respond on your time. That might be early in the morning, or late at night, but it is on your terms.

So when I read this Fast Company article: “Secrets from the CEO Who Achieves Inbox Zero Every Day” I was curious to learn more about how a CEO actually gets to zero every day. It feels impossible. He shares some great tips, This idea especially resonates with me:

“Think of email as facilitating work, not as work in and of itself.”

For someone who is often in meetings all day, I can relate to this idea. Since I am rarely at my desk, email is often the way I can share information, ask questions, get updates, and communicate with my team. It does feel like it is the work, but I really like the idea of it just facilitating the work. That does not mean that we could not all use some of the tips from Rajeev Goel (CEO in the article). We can all be better, get rid of the extraneous and unnecessary emails, and find ways to be more streamlined and save everyone’s time.

What do you think?